Sound Business Practices and Business Models to Consider when Starting a Personal Trainer Business
Sound Business Practices and Business Models to Consider when Starting a Personal Trainer Business

Introduction: As you progress into your career as a professional personal trainer you may be thinking about having a studio of your own, opening a center, or simply freelancing as opposed to working for an established gym or fitness center. These are all possibilities, if not in the beginning, in the future. As you set your goals and build your business plan, it will be important to take a look at these different directions and how each is different from a business perspective.

In this article you will learn about franchising, opening your own exercise studio and freelancing. According to the international Health, Racquet and Sports Club Association, membership of fitness centers has been rising at a solid rate for the past 10 years with a 4.8% increase from 2015 to 2016. Over 64 million members in the U.S. alone made over 5 billion visits to a fitness center in 2015. Revenues in the fitness industry, in the United States, were up over 6.1% this year. That is amazing growth for any industry in the sluggish economy that this country has experienced. Internationally growth is doing as well as it is here.

Besides working as an employee in an established center there are three avenues a professional personal trainer might decide to pursue. In this article those will be discussed to give some basic insight to the beginner in the field. It is important to know that this is an industry that has much potential for anyone who seeks a job or a business to run.


A. Freelancing is common among professional personal trainers. Even for those who are employed by a gym, trainers often offer services beyond that gym to personal clients. Being a professional personal trainer offers a wide berth of possibilities for earning a living. Freelancing suggests that the trainer is on the go. With a small amount of specific equipment, a trainer has the option to take his work on the road with few barriers.

Remember that you will have to pay taxes on your income other than what you earn when you work for someone else. These won't be taken out of a what you are paid. Find out what the state and federal tax will be and put that much of every dollar into a special savings account or come tax time, you will get a whopper of a surprise. Don't make the mistake it will be small. It could be up as much as 12% of what you take in. Some states offer small business advantages and will not tax them, but the federal tax system will always be waiting at the end of the year with their hand out.

Obesity has grown to what is called world epidemic proportions. People, at the same time are growing more health conscious as they become more aware. Fad diets are as rampant as they have ever been. Individuals have rooms in their homes just to put their exercise equipment, which, because of technology has improved and initiated interactions between individuals at home and fitness centers.

All a personal trainer has to do is let his services be known and sign people up. Working for yourself has a huge positive side. You can set your own hours, consistently branch out and follow new trends, and not be subject to the issues of a larger business. On the downside, your business is totally dependent upon you. If you get hurt, you no longer have a business. Some freelancers build small groups who can cover for each other and who share clients or who specialize in different areas. You are still your own boss and have your own company, you just work in conjunction with other small business owners.

Today, businesses everywhere are jumping on the fitness parade. Companies are hiring trainers to come into their offices each week to give classes to encourage fit employees, these same employees will often hire the trainer to come and work with them at their homes. It is possible to work with a company and give the company a break on the group fees in exchange for the ability to offer private services to the employees or even small group sessions after work. You could offer your services at big conferences that bring lots of people together to sit through long and tiring strings of speakers. What a great break it would be for these employees to get a 30-minute workout in the middle of a long day of sitting.

After school care, preschool facilities, school districts and hospitals are all becoming very open to paying trainers to offer classes to their workers. Personal training is a big business and if you go with this model, you need to give deep thought to your name, your logo, and your marketing. It is branding yourself. You will have to have insurance, a financial advisor, and organized bookkeeping. Other than that your overhead will be low. You will require sound contracts, good technology, reliable transportation and good people skills. You will have to think outside of the box and be willing to step in front of strong leaders to gain employment and to make your pitch why they should hire you when there are so many trainers in the field.

A good business owner has to find the confidence to keep moving forward with new ideas, forging new pathways and reinventing himself. If you go this route, there may be a time when you decide to employ and manage others to work under you. Eventually, you may be able to run the business with less time in the field. The world is open to you. It is a good time to be a personal trainer.


B. Another model is to open a small studio either in your home or in a public place that gives you some attention in the community. With little overhead you can offer small classes, individual training, and enjoy the fun of an established business without going big or "try out" the idea of going big. It is an easy step form freelancing to opening a small studio or store front exercise center. You can offer classes in nutrition, bring in specialists to develop meal plans for individuals, cater to those who fight diabetes and you might even be able to partner with a local hospital in this area. Parents with obese children might be looking for small classes where their child can learn to get fit, while they learn better ways to cook, and even find friends to socialize with who understand their plight.

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online class in Personal Trainer?

A small fitness studio offers a place for you to support localized health issues, community services, or sponsor local events. You can become a fitness and health leader where you live. Sometimes called fitness boutiques, there are people opening small places centered on yoga and then working or specializing their programs for pregnant women, seniors, disabled, or others. Often these places become a local hangout with juice and nutrition bars. If you keep the overhead low, this model is profitable. Bringing in specialists to work with you can be expensive but if they are good they are worth paying well.

A small studio in your home can work well too, especially for those clients who don't like the big gym atmosphere or are turned off by the intensity of many who work out there. Make sure you check with your county and city to find out about requirements. It would not be good to ignore legal issues. They have a way of catching up to you.

C. The third model is opening your own larger fitness center. The jump from a boutique shop or freelancing to this model is huge in every way. The cost of the center itself, the insurance, hiring employees, setting up financial accounts, health and safety inspections and regulations, parking, utility bills, equipment and upkeep on the facility and all that equipment is staggering. Many people who go this route chose to franchise with an established brand. When you do that they often offer guidance and help you find the best routes to obtaining your equipment. In exchange many franchises, besides the initial cost of purchase, charge a fee per month for the use of their name. Usually the name of a large company brings in enough more people to pay that monthly cost, but even when business is down, you have to pay the fees.

There is no question that opening a larger center will require the skills of a good financial manager, and accountant. You cannot afford to miss something in the financial or legal areas. Some people even hire seasoned center managers to run the place. It all depends on how involved you want to be, however, no matter how many people you decide to employ, you must know what is going on in every aspect of the center. It is your business and you will be responsible for all of it, what your employees say, do, or don't do. Your decisions will be in buying or leasing equipment, services to clean the center, security, and organization of how it will run day to day. You will have to monitor the income and expenses to know when to make cuts or to expand. Even when you hire people to work for you and they are professionals and experienced, you have to constantly be looking over their shoulder. You cannot totally trust anyone. Every town has that 55-year-old grandmother who siphons money from the company for which she works.

This model will take as much energy to run as one where you are the only trainer. The headaches will be bigger and more often. On the other side, it will bring income much greater than any small center. You have to weigh it, know your strengths and weaknesses and make some well thought-through decisions.


D. Conclusion and Assignment: While you are contemplating the business model you want to pursue; you need to also contemplate the legal model that will fit your choices well.

There are three basic legal models for a business to use; sole proprietorship, LLC or limited liability corporation, and corporation. The difference between them lies in the way you are taxed and your financial liability. A corporation creates your business as a separate entity from your personal assets for the purpose of taxes and liabilities. A sole proprietorship does not protect you from either. The LLC is a bit of both. The tax paid on business income is still reported on your personal income tax report with an LLC and sole proprietorship, but liability, with an LLC is limited to your business assets and will not impede in any way on your personal assets. There are also various types of corporations like an S corporation that offers parts of what an LLC offers.

A corporate structure will not work if you run a small business because in a small business you, personally are contracting with another person for services as opposed to your business contracting with them. That personal guarantee cuts across the separation of personal and business assets. You are your business asset, but you are also a personal asset to yourself.

The pros to a corporation are lower tax rates but if you have to move that money into your personal accounts you may be subject to paying personal income tax on top of the corporate earnings tax. If you are young and are looking for an investment where your corporate earnings can be put into retirement accounts with yourself getting a paycheck, it might be what you need.

Whichever legal road you choose, you must talk to an attorney and accountant for more professional financial advice. You should also make use of all the free opportunities provided by the Small Business Associations or the SBC. They are in every state and many towns. They offer information about money, legal issues to consider, classes, mentors, and guides to various grants and specialized loans. They are on the web and will list each office in your state and what they offer. You should plan to check it out today. Don't wait because this assistance is professional, knowledgeable, supported and best of all free. It is the best place to gain advice very necessary for a personal trainer. You will have a chance to meet others who have traveled the road before you and their experience is invaluable.

The biggest mistake you can make is not taking advantage of the information available to you, listening to experienced business owners, and getting the advice of professional financial managers and a business attorney. The cost of these professionals is offset by the access to their years of education and experience. Do nothing without knowing first what it is that you are going to do.


To sum up your assignment for this article:

1. Contact the SBA in your locality

2. Make a decision on which business model you will begin with

3. If you want set a goal for a different model for the future

4. Call your local city and county offices and find out what the rules are.

5. Get some recommendations specifically on business attorneys, financial managers, accountants and tax services. Just get some recommendations and write these down.

P.T. Tips 
The best way to run a successful business is to stay organized, pay attention to the details, and use common sense. Your clients, however small or large your business, will see through an undereducated, inexperienced, and unmanaged service. And that is what you are selling - a service. Think of it like a product and protect it above all else. Keep your life balance so you will make better decisions. Be in charge of your business and be willing to do the hard stuff.Don't allow any person or habit to infiltrate what you are building and take care of negative issues that are having a bad influence.


Stay ethical, honest, hardworking, sincerely concerned about your clients, in control of your time, spending and self-care. You are the best asset your business has. Think of that every morning when you wake up and every evening before you go to sleep. You would not think much of clients who went to a trainer who was not certified, was lazy or unorganized. In that same vein, you must access professionals who know what they are doing, who are experienced and organized. Good business practices cross the line between financial management and life management. Each affects the other. Don't go into this business without other professionals by your side.